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Nervousness and the Body, Research Paper Example

Pages: 4

Words: 1122

Research Paper

Nervousness occurs in people on many occasions such as before speaking or performing in front of an audience, when getting married, when meeting someone for the first time, in fearful situations, when under pressure, etc. There are many other examples of times when people find themselves experiencing nervousness. Nervousness is a form of anxiety and is a normal human response to stressful situations. However, when anxiety or nervousness gets out of control, then it is likely a serious issue. Dictionary.com defines nervousness as “very excitable or sensitive; highly strung (nervousness), and anxiety is defined as a state of “distress or uneasiness of mind . . .” (anxiety).

When a person experiences nervousness, that person is also experiencing anxiety on some level. This is a reaction to stress and is commonly seen when someone worries excessively (WebMD). Some people worry about everything constantly and this can affect their overall health status, both physically and mentally. According to WebMD, negative physiological effects are associated with excessive worrying, and this affects the body and the mind in ways that often lead to physical and mental illnesses. When someone worries excessively, the nervousness this creates causes the body to go into a stress response which results in physiological effects.

Physiological Effects of Nervousness

The body’s automatic responses to nervousness and stress show in physiological effects on the body and is characterized by the stress response, known as the ‘fight or flight syndrome.’ This syndrome is a natural reaction that gets the body and mind ready to respond to a situation that is perceived as dangerous or challenging. When someone perceives a dangerous of challenging situation is at hand, the body responds by setting off a defense mechanism which results in a spike of adrenaline released from the brain. This adrenaline release then prepares the body for a fight or a confrontation of some sort, or it encourages the person experiencing the situation to flee from the danger or challenge, instead of fighting (HMHL). This happens whether or not there is a real danger or challenge or just a perceived danger or challenge. When no real danger or challenge exists, but is only perceived to exist in a person’s mind, the body still kicks into a fight or flight response mode and sends the body through the same physiological changes as if a real danger or challenge was present. These physiological changes are activated by the hypothalamus gland. This gland is responsible for maintaining the body’s equilibrium including the body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, mood, behavior, metabolism, sensory processing, and other important body functions (HMHL). When the flight or fight response is initiated, physiological changes to the body include elevated pulse rate, raised blood pressure, muscle tension, and sweating, as well as other changes to the body. If out of control nervousness and worrying becomes persistent, anxiety disorders can develop (WebMD). People with anxiety disorder constantly worry and they are always tense and nervous about something, and they are this way even when there is nothing to be worried or nervous about. Symptoms of anxiety disorder are problems sleeping, restlessness, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, and being overly nervous. Additionally, complications can arise from anxiety and nervousness and can result in serious medical conditions such as digestive system disorders, memory loss, heart disease, and problems with the immune system (WebMD). Anxiety affects the immune system in negative ways and prevents white blood cells from attacking bacteria and viruses, as they normally do, which can cause disease. This is why excessive anxiety and stress may lead to strokes, heart attacks, immune diseases, and more (Park).

Causes of Nervousness and Anxiety

Although stress is a significant factor contributing to nervousness and anxiety, it is not the only factor. According to Shelton, there are some hereditary factors that can contribute to this condition as well. For instance, anxiety disorder may present in several members of the same family, as the disorder may tend to run in a family’s structural history. This is closely related to shared behavioral characteristics among members of a family. Some behavioral traits are passed on to children from parents. This suggests a genetic link to anxiety disorders among family members; however, certain environmental factors can also contribute to this. Factors in a person’s environment can disturb his or her state of equilibrium and are known as a stressors, which elicit the stress response in reaction to the stressors. This can lead to panic attacks which can cause a person to have heart palpitations, sweat, trembling, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, chest pain, or abnormal fear of dying (Shelton).

Another cause of anxiety is a chemical imbalance in the brain, and this may be caused by environmental influences. These environmental influences can include situational or emergency situations. Also, a chemical imbalance may occur from the stress from phobias such as being in a crowded room or closed in places. Chemical imbalances are the result of irregularities in the pituitary gland, which is the gland that produces hormones responsible for keeping the blood pressure and reproductive system regulated. If the pituitary gland produces low hormone levels, then a chemical imbalance in the brain can occur, and this leads to nervousness and anxiety (Mayo Clinic). 

Conclusion

Nervousness, especially in excess, can lead to various serious conditions that can have seriously negative complications and consequences. Nervousness and anxiety disorder are often linked and is associated with over-the-top worrying about almost everything in a person’s life, most days of the week for over several months at a time. When it is difficult or impossible to control the worrying, then it leads to adverse physiological effects on the body and causes health issues. Untreated excessive nervousness and anxiety can also lead to depression and substance abuse which opens up avenues for many more health issues and problems, both physically and mentally. Consequently, it is imperative that people with nervousness or anxiety disorders seek professional help for their conditions. Adequate medical and psychological treatment is can help a person control the effects of their conditions, which are negative physiological effects. It is important that healthcare professionals are thoroughly trained in the area of anxiety disorders and that they are also knowledgeable and capable of overseeing effective medicinal and psychological treatments to patients with this condition.

References

Anxiety. n.d. Web. 7 April 2013. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/anxiety?s=t>.

HMHL. “Understanding the stress response.” Harvard Mental Health Letter 27.9 (2011): 4-5. Print. 7 April 2013.

Mayo Clinic. Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid). 2012. Web. 13 March 2013. <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hypothyroidism/DS00353>.

Nervousness. n.d. Web. 7 April 2013. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/’nervousness>.

Park, A. “The two faces of anxiety.” Time 5 December 2011: 54-6, 59-60, 62. Print. 7 April 2013.

Shelton, C. I. (2004, March 1). Diagnosis and Management of Anxiety Disorders. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 104(3), S2-S5

WebMD. (2011, March 6). How Worrying Affects the Body. 2013. Web. 13 March 2013.

<http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/how-worrying-affects-your-body>.

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